I was really grateful, definitely, for every chance in this year. I thought my flight will be delayed or, at worst, my study will be conducted online and never came to Japan. So, becoming one among few people who fortunately could come to Japan even in COVID-19 condition was a miracle.
However, having a great time in Japan seems vague at the beginning of 2021. Due to Covid-19, many events were being cancelled. Actually, I have a bulk of wishing list as I arrived in Japan and only some of them can be realized. No festivals, no crowd, mask everywhere, even the great event such Olympic was calmly held. Luckily, I do not have to erase my wish list for being engaged with local culture and community of Japanese people.
One day, I found this community, namely the Third Place Kobe. I knew this from one of my fellow students in Indonesian student council. Their tagline is “Do you want to make Japanese friends?”. I shout calmly, “Definitely!” Though I know my Japanese language is so rusty but I curious about it. Other than that, I can taste a little bit refreshment outside my study field. What kind of experience that I get from the Third Place Kobe? Let’s check this out!
So, my first meeting was so exciting! They taught me how to write Japanese calligraphy namely Shodo. I have studied calligraphy before when I was in madrasah. We used to call it “Khat”. While khat is for hijaiyah letter, Shodõ (害道) is a Japanese calligraphy art meaning “The Way of Writing”. I interpret it as the art of writing. The art of calligraphy was increasingly introduced after the hiragana and katakana letters were invented.
In shodõ writing, the brush for writing can vary. This brush is called a fude (ふで). Writing calligraphy on a large canvas with a small brush is strictly prohibited.
The ink used is also varies. Some are grinded manually like sharpening a knife on a suzuri (すずり), called sumi (すみ). There is also a liquid ink called bokujo (ぼくじょ).
I drew the kanji character hana (花) which means flower. There are parts of the characters that make us have to focus and be calm while writing them. So it’s no wonder some people call the art of calligraphy a reflection of the author, because each brush pressure and stroke will give different results.
For the second meeting, they taught me how to create a beautiful origami. It is the art of paper folding originating from Japan. There are so many ways, ranging from the simplest to the most complex. So, at that time, I and my friends try to make 12 yama (mountain) origami lanterns. At first, it was easy to follow until the next step to combine all the basic yama together. It takes a while to make it perfect. I astonished by origami makers who can create such a beautiful yet delicate craft from a piece of paper.
3. Japanese Calligraphy Art
Finally, I learned how to write shodó on a sensu-the folding fan! Our charming sensei started to explain beautifully as she stroke her paintbrush to write all the cute characters onto a paper. I thought it was a picture! Now, I understand why art is an innate talent with limitless creativity and effort.
All of us enjoyed the event very much. The room, the character, the cicadas’ sound were perfectly blend to sooth our soul. Then, after several hours, everyone showed their beautiful work. There were tons of cute characters: Sea, fireworks, watermelon, mulan’s quote, so on so forth. I also tried to write down my words: shinjitsu de shinjiru (believe in truth).
After having fun with senshu calligraphy art, I was invited to join story telling. Unfortunately, my listening skill is not so good but I can feel the throughout story by looking the sketch.
4. Yukata Event
It was a memorable event for me. I and my friends have been taught how to wear yukata by ourselves. I thought it was like a piece of cake but I forget about the topping! It take so much time just to make sure that I fold the side correctly. In the end, our sensei and staff of the Third Place Kobe helped me to make it neat. Tada!! We already wore yukata in the Summer time! And what surprised me more was they gave us yukata as a gift. They also gave us doorprize and the winner was me, yeay!!! How lovely and nice they are! So, I can bring Geta, a pair of traditional footwear made of woods. I love the clacking sound heard from it everytime I walk.
Overall, I really grateful and enjoy all the events during this year. So, if you are in Kobe, Japan and want to make new friends or taste the original taste of Japan’s memorable experience with local people, don’t hesitate to join the Third Place Kobe event. There’s still many events waiting for you. Please visit their website to know more. Thank you the Third Place Kobe for letting me taste of omotenashi (hospitality of Japanese people), you are always in my heart ^^!